Shun church or ‘go to hell’, Zimbabwe government warns

HARARE — A Zimbabwe government spokesman warned people against flocking to church on Sunday in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, and even claimed that worshippers risked going to hell. “A quick survey around town (in the capital Harare) shows a lot of religious activity above 100 people,” Zimbabwe government spokesman Nick Mangwana said on Twitter. “Let’s be responsible. All of us will die. And then go to hell,” he said. The Zimbabwe government has banned gatherings of more than 100 people to ward off the spread of the new coronavirus and even declared the state of national disaster even. The sub-Saharan African country, whose healthcare system has been eroded by two decades of economic decline, has so far recorded two cases of Covid-19. Harare resident Joyce Ndlovu said her church had staggered Mass so that none would exceed 100 faithful.

Rwanda imposes shutdown as infections jump across Africa

KIGALI – Rwanda imposed a nationwide shutdown and border controls to combat the coronavirus at the weekend in some of the strictest measures taken in Africa, as infections spread across the continent and authorities warn healthcare systems are ill-equipped to cope. The Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius and Burkina Faso on the fringes of the Sahara have banned public gatherings, shuttered schools, churches, mosques and bars and closed their airports. Africa has lagged behind the global curve for coronavirus infections and deaths, but in the past few days has seen a significant rise in cases. The continent has now reported more than 1 100 infections – more than 1 000 of them in sub-Saharan Africa – as the World Health Organisation expresses concern that poor sanitation, urban crowding and the lack of intensive-care units, equipment and trained staff could hamper any response.

US envoy to SA draws fire after possible virus exposure

WASHINGTON — US state department employees have complained about the US ambassador to South Africa’s failure to self-isolate immediately after returning from a US visit when she attended a 7 March Mar-a-Lago event, some of whose attendees have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to messages reviewed by Reuters. Among those at the event were US president Donald Trump, who has tested negative for the Covid-19 disease, and US senator Lindsay Graham, who decided to quarantine himself after learning a Brazilian official there fell ill with it. The State Department employees were worried the ambassador, Lana Marks, might infect her staff, personnel on a US Navy ship she visited last week, and South Africans before she decided on Thursday to self-isolate. Marks said she had attended the Mar-a-Lago event but minimised the chances of her exposure.

Gambia hunting 14 coronavirus quarantine escapees

BANJUL — Gambian authorities were on Friday searching for 14 people who broke out of a hotel where they had been quarantined as a coronavirus precaution and escaped, health officials said. The group was among 32 passengers who arrived on a flight from the United Kingdom on Wednesday and placed in quarantine in the hotel located in the capital, Banjul. In a statement broadcast on Thursday, health minister Ahmadou Lamin Samateh said that some quarantined passengers “apparently became aggressive,” broke down the hotel gates and ran away. He added that the incident was “very, very detrimental” and created “risk for the entire nation”. The tiny West African state recorded its first coronavirus case on Tuesday, in a young woman who also flew into the country from the United Kingdom. – Nampa-AFP-Reuters

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